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Griff: When it comes to providing customer support, communication is always the key. Jodi Gaines Pereira is the co-founder and CEO of ReplyManager. It is an eBay-compatible application software. Jodi, we all know that customer support is extremely important. What kind of impact does it have on eBay sellers?
Jodi: Well, customer support is, like you said, at the heart of every online business, it impacts not only customer feedback and reviews, but overall purchase behavior and seller standings with eBay, so it affects your online reputation. Consumers seek out reviews to help them make purchases. Positive reviews boost sales, negative ones can harm your online reputation and of course be a lot harder to turn around. A lot of other sellers selling the same thing that you are, as Lee mentioned, she wanted to do the very best that she could and a lot of times that includes giving the very best customer support.
And then, of course, overall customer satisfaction. It costs a lot less to keep a loyal customer and sell to them than having to go out and finding another one.
You would think the answer to that question would be pretty simple, but it's a lot more when you drill down and you start to see how everything intertwines with everything you do as a seller.
Lee: Jodi, there are a lot of ways to provide online customer support, email, live chat, social media. Where do you think sellers should focus their efforts and how can they improve?
Jodi: With eBay's buyers can only contact sellers thru the eBay messaging. But within the industry as a whole, we found that even though buyers contact sellers through social media or a live chat, they still prefer to send and receive emails. So if you are trying to decide where to put the most effort, we suggest choosing email because that's where customers are really wanting to communicate.
Griff: Tell us about ReplyManager, the application you built for this purpose. How can it help eBay sellers?
Jodi: ReplyManager is a web-based email management tool designed specifically for eBay sellers. It integrates directly through eBay's API so any of the messages that you're sending and receiving through ReplyManager will go through eBay as well. We've also recently added the Resolution Center into the ReplyManager tool.
Lee: Sounds like ReplyManager does a lot of things that eBay's My Messages system does, so how is ReplyManager different?
Jodi: Yes, you are right, it does do a lot of the same things but the biggest difference is, that we like to point out, is first and foremost as a seller you no longer have to share your eBay ID with your staff. So if you have more than one person answering messaging, they each have their own username and password. And with the Resolution Center we've got a few extras such as being able to put in customized standard replies and organize your cases with category tags. We also automatically sort all of the incoming messages, so if you have a shipping question or a returns question, we can automatically sort those and separate them out into folders or tag them so your staff knows exactly where to go and find those messages. We also are able to provide detailed reporting so if you want to see how your staff is producing, how quickly they're answering emails, things like that, we do provide.
Griff: That's excellent. Let me get this straight. If I use ReplyManager, will my messages still be sent thru eBay's messaging system?
Jodi: Yes, because we integrate directly with the API, everything flows thru eBay.
Lee: That's important. We need to be protected.
Lee: So at what point would you recommend a seller try ReplyManager?
Jodi: Well really any time that a seller, especially in the beginning when you are just starting out but, anytime you are feeling overwhelmed with email or you have other staff answering your messages. It is a good idea to have ReplyManager just so you can automate some of the processes, have those standard replies to answer messages more quickly, have those threaded conversations.
Lee: What is your background Jodi?
Jodi: I've been in the web development business since 1999 so I've done everything from writing HTML and putting together marketing campaigns. I'm also one of the co-founders of ReplyManager, so I had a hand in creating the app as well. Been around for a little while.
Griff: So how do I get started, if I want to check this out?
Lee: The 15 day trial
Griff: Where do I go?
Jodi: Go to ReplyManager.com and there is a free trial link at the top of the page. Just fill out the quick form.
Griff: Now that I've got you here and this sounds like a cool app. Is ReplyManager thinking about building other applications as well?
Jodi: We decided a while back to focus on helping sellers communicate so our focus won't be in building other apps, it will be on improving ReplyManager.
Some of the things we are working on is expanding is integrating with other tools, such as other listing tools, order management tools, improving the Resolution Center. We're adding some reports for that in the next couple of quarters. That's really going to be where our focus remains.
Lee: We're speaking with Jodi Gaines Pereira, she's the co-founder and CEO of ReplyManager an eBay compatible application.
I'm getting confused about this word application. Usually an app is something that you can go in the APP store and purchase, but this is a web-based thing isn't it?
Jodi: Yes, that is correct.
Lee: But you're still called an eBay compatible application?
Jodi: Right, they call it an eBay compatible application or software but it is all web-based, users can log in from anywhere with their credentials to answer emails, even if you are on vacation, even though you really don't want to answer your emails, you're able to do that by going to the right url.
Lee: Jodi, I get it that you were doing other things of an online nature before you did this but what got you interested in helping eBay sellers?
Jodi: Interestingly enough, when we were really just focusing on web development, we had a client that had a rather large online store, it was not eBay oriented, but they had another customer support outfit that was helping them and they needed something so that they can pass messages back and forth and see what the other one was doing and be able to escalate issues. We created that in 2001 and then we had a partner who was also an eBay seller, Joe Craparotta, I don't know if you know him, came to us and said we need to introduce this to the eBay folks so we worked on building an API with eBay messaging and it's just blossomed from there.
Griff: What about a mobile application version of this. Would that be in the works someday you think?
Jodi: We do not have plans to make a mobile application but because it is web-based we are planning to do something called responsive design which basically makes the experience of ReplyManager more mobile or tablet friendly. But they would still go to the same place.
Griff: Yes, just go to your browser. I do that with several apps.
Jodi: Exactly. They can do that now.
Lee: Many of our eBay sellers who are listening to this right now have either just gone over to the other side or on the cusp of needing employees and people to help them. In the 12 years we have been doing this radio show, I can tell you that 12 years ago, hardly anybody did. Everybody was just one person doing it out of their house or their garage and through the years they have grown their businesses to the point where they need to hire - I think they usually start out, many of them with either one of their own kids or some kid from the neighborhood to do shipping for them. Now they are beginning to get virtual assistance more and more to help them. And a lot of them have employees. Is this really for somebody who has more than one person dealing with customer support?
Jodi: We have customers that are on their own just doing it by themselves, but because they have a large email volume and we're able to automatically sort things, it really helps them to identify all of the shipping questions, all of the returns, and if they have a product category that they want to focus on, they can send standard replies, so it really helps sellers that are on their own organize their messages and respond more quickly to them.
On the other side of the coin, as they grow and they're adding staff members, they are able to use a lot of the same features, but obviously other people are able to do the same, plus they'll have tracking, and they can control the messaging, things of that nature.
Lee: You have 30 seconds to tell them where to go and how to do it.
Jodi: All Right - ReplyManager.com. We offer a 15-Day Free Trial. Again, that's ReplyManager.com. We offer 24/7 support, and outside of normal business hours you can get a hold of us in emergencies as well. We are very proud that we're always able to answer the phone during those normal business hours so you will always get a human on the other line.
Griff: That's fantastic. It's great talking to you Jodi and best of luck with the application.